Some Clarifications

I received a few interesting comments and emails on my politics post below, and I wanted to add a few brief things. The whole part about reading and understanding evolution was what really changed my mindset and caused me to read so much more. I had spent so much time reading Darwin's Black Box, Darwin on Trial, and visiting web sites like this that I really truly 100% believed that I understood evolution, and that it was wrong. So when I finally read things like Jon Weiner's Beak of the Finch, a biography of Darwin, and Steve Gould's books like Bully for Brontasaurus, it was some major cognitive dissonance for me. People normally deal with cognitive dissonance by ignoring information that conflicts with their worldview, but that is easy only when it comes in small doses. I was overwhelmed, and couldn't ignore it, so I have since become obsessive-compulsive about not letting it happen again. That is why my initial reaction to something is always to see what the critics say – and that is why I started reading some really weird stuff sometimes.

Someone also asked what my favorite books are. I would have to say a tie between Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, and Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The first is an amazing book that intertwines the music of Bach, the art of Escher, and the Incompleteness Theorem of Godel, to make some interesting points about consciousness, self-referencing systems, and all that kind of stuff. It drags in a few places, but if you have the patience I highly recommend it.

As for Pirsig's book, well I am not sure I fully understood it, but it made me think a lot about what does it mean to live a quality life? He has an obsession with trying to define quality, and he really can't.

And I always like to recommend Tom Gilovich's How We Know What Isn't So. It focuses on common fallacies in our thinking, like when we say someone is "hot" in a ball game when really their performance falls within statistical expectations.

I still plan to post something on my specific views in another day or two, so stay tuned.